Colbert King has written a disgraceful column smearing the Tea Party protestors and opponents of big government more generally as racists. It’s not the first example of this genre, but it is one of the most despicable.
The angry faces at Tea Party rallies are eerily familiar. They resemble faces of protesters lining the street at the University of Alabama in 1956 as Autherine Lucy, the school’s first black student, bravely tried to walk to class. Those same jeering faces could be seen gathered around the Arkansas National Guard troopers who blocked nine black children from entering Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957.
“They moved closer and closer,” recalled Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine. “Somebody started yelling, ‘Lynch her! Lynch her!’ I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd — someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat on me.”
Those were the faces I saw at a David Duke rally in Metairie, La., in 1991: sullen with resentment, wallowing in victimhood, then exploding with yells of excitement as the ex-Klansman and Republican gubernatorial candidate spewed vitriolic white-power rhetoric.
Actually, all those “angry faces” have in common is that they are predominantly white. Someone whose racial obsessions run in the opposite direction from King’s — say, the owners of those sullen faces at the David Duke rally — would be similarly incapable of telling the difference between Rosa Parks and a race riot. “A black face is a black face,” they might say. No need to determine the justice of their cause.
Nearly two decades ago, before the term “fisking” even existed, Bill Buckley fisked a column by Carl Rowan attacking Clarence Thomas. Rowan said (I’m quoting from memory here, but the WFB column is included in the Happy Days Were Here Again anthology) that if you put a little flour on Thomas’ face and closed your eyes while listening to him speak, you would think you were listening to David Duke.
Buckley replied, “Only if you are as dumb as Carl Rowan.” Colbert King isn’t dumb. What he is engaged in here is much uglier than that.